Running All Over DisneyWorld

You really should be in good physical shape before you go to Disney, especially if you expect to visit all four of the parks and one of the two waterparks.  I was 3 months into my weight loss program when we visited, and although I was more fit than before I started my diet, I wasn’t in the shape that I should have been.  This resulted in my not being able to run and keep up with my husband as we tried to make it to the bus stop before it pulled away from the curb.

We calculated that it was 1/2 a mile walk from our room to the bus stop at the front of the resort.  There’s no particular rhyme or reason to when a bus will arrive for any one of the parks, so sometimes it’s just luck that you’ll arrive at the bus stop just before the bus you want pulls up.

One day, we were heading to the bus stop to head into Downtown Disney.  We were still 1/8 of a mile from the stop when we saw the Downtown Disney bus making its approach.  Rick ran on ahead to the bus stop (he’s a runner and in great shape, so he had no problem making it to the stop).  He asked the driver to wait for me, and I’m sure the driver turned in his seat to see me straggling behind.  Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of people waiting for that particular bus, so the driver agreed to wait. I practically fell into the bus, gasping for breath, managing to thank the dear man for waiting.

At Blizzard Beach, one of the attractions had no waiting time….we just had to climb 127 steps to get to the top.  We went on this ride 3 times in a row.  Winded on the 1st go, a woman at the top asked how many steps there were – 127, I wheezily reported.  The guy she was with, though, had a different number – he said there were 160+ steps.  I figured that I must have blacked out and missed the other 40+ steps.  But, on the 2nd and 3rd go, I recounted the steps and still counted 127.

So, ladies and gentlemen, do yourselves a favor and get into shape before you get to DisneyWorld.  You’ll be glad that you are are when you can run 1/8th of a mile to the bus stop or climb 127 steps three times in a row without blacking out.

Dinner at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano

Mama Melrose’s is a beautifully decorated Italian restaurant in Hollywood Studios.  I had heard that they accommodate the gluten-free diner, and that is certainly true!  Chef Josh told me that all of their menu items can be modified!  They would use rice pasta or substitute for the roux.  Their menu is quite extensive, so this was the first time since being diagnosed as a celiac that I could choose ANYTHING on the menu – and it was an Italian restaurant!!  It boggled the mind.

Gluten-Free Tapioca Rolls & Olive Oil
Gluten-Free Tapioca Rolls & Olive Oil

Entrees to choose from include:

  1. Pork Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Risotto, fresh Vegetables, and topped with marsala Sauce
  2. Spaghetti Fra Diavolo with clams, Mussels, Calamari, and Shrimp tossed in a spicy Marinara Sauce
  3. Charred Sirloin Steak topped with Gorgonzola Butter on Roasted Red Pepper Polenta and Grilled Vegetables with a Red Wine Reduction
  4. Penne alla Vodka with pancetta and Sweet Onion finished with Tomato Basil Sauce, Cream, Vodka, and Pecorino Romano
  5. Spicy Italian Sausage with Rigatoni Pasta, Peppers, Onions, and  Tomato-Basil Sauce topped with Caprino Cheese
  6. Wood-grilled Tuna basted with a Sun-dried Tomato Pesto served on Grilled Vegetables
  7. Chicken Pipette – Wood-grilled Chicken over Pipette Pasta tossed with Artichokes, Peas, Roasted Peppers, and Sweet Onions in a Basil Four-Cheese Cream Sauce
  8. Oven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana over Spaghetti
  9. Eggplant napoleon
  10. There are also 4 different flatbread menu items, but  I wonder how they could have been adapted to be gluten-free?

    Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan
    Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan

I chose to have the Oven-Baked Chicken alla Parmigiana over Spaghetti.  It had been many years since I’d had chicken parm, so I had forgotten that the chicken is breaded.  Chef Josh made that gluten-free, too, rather than just not breading it.  It was an excellent meal!  They brought out gluten-free tapioca rolls.  That’s something I’d never get tired of….being served gluten-free bread with a meal in a restaurant.

Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake
Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake

Saving the best for last….for dessert I was offered either ice cream or a flourless chocolate cake.  Naturally, I chose the flourless chocolate cake, and wow!  It was excellent and beautifully presented.

Without a doubt, we will definitely revisit Mama Melrose’s on our return trip to DisneyWorld.  No question about it!

On the Way to Mama Melrose’s….

Disney's Hollywood Studios Entrance DSC03623

We took the bus from our resort to Hollywood Studios for dinner at Mama Melrose’s.  We were sitting on the bus near a woman and her 4 children and they were having a conversation that we couldn’t help but overhear.

It was 6:00 p.m. and they were apparently running late for a show at Hollywood Studios that started at 6:45 p.m.  Mom was yelling at one of the children, blaming them for how late they were running.  “You just had to go into the pool one more time!” she berated him.  Rick & I exchanged glances and I remember thinking, just who is the parent here?

Then, she told the kids that in order to make it to the 6:45 p.m. show, they would be expected to keep up with her as she would be running as soon as they got off the bus.  Too bad for the 4-year-old, I guess, who probably couldn’t run as fast as the others.

This reminded me of something that happened on the Lazy River at Blizzard Beach that day.  Rick & I were floating along in a double tube and a little boy of 3 or 4 years old was temporarily separated from his mother on the river.  He was in one of those kiddie tubes with the center filled in.

He got a wild-eyed look as if he thought if he lost sight of his mother, he’d never see her again.  Rick pushed his tube around ours and toward his mother’s tube.  The wild-eyed look in his eyes dimmed a bit, but it was still there.

A little later, Rick started laughing and saying to me that the mother might have said to the kid “see you back at the car!” as she paddled away and out of sight.  Better yet, he said, perhaps she would say “See you back at the resort – hope you remember which resort, must less the room number”.

My husband, ladies & gentlemen.  Still, it got a laugh from me.  He’s really not a mean person…just dramatizing what might give the child reason to have such a wild look in his young eyes.

During the time that we were at DisneyWorld, we saw an awful lot of children struggling to keep up with their parents.  There were plenty of children in strollers but there were quite a few children running as fast as their short little legs would carry them, struggling to keep up.  Rick & I discussed the fact that when we were kids, we weren’t pushed around in strollers….we were expected to keep up, too.  I don’t recall my parents shouting at us, though, if we couldn’t keep up.  Nor do I recall being blamed if we were running late because they had let us go into the pool one more time before we left.

Times have changed.

Dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Whispering Canyon Cafe

The Whispering Canyon Cafe is at the Wilderness Lodge resort.  I think that I’d like to stay at this resort the next time we visit Disney.  It’s very rustic and brings back pleasant memories of time spent in the forests of Upper Michigan…

I had been anticipating our visit to the Whispering Canyon Cafe because of what I had heard about their gluten-free corn bread and the popular Canyon Skillet meal.  It was everything (and more) that I had heard….an excellent meal!

We had taken the boat from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney, and then a bus to the Wilderness Lodge – total travel time approximately 1 hour.  Fortunately, we left plenty of time for travel and arrived before our reservation time of 7:00 p.m.  We were seated at 6:50 p.m.  The restaurant is very rustic with a log cabin feel to it.  We lucked out and were seated at a table for 2 right next to the fireplace.  It had been raining all day, so it was very nice to sit next to a roaring fire, even if it was early September in Florida.

Our Chef was Eddie and he gave me a list of the items from their menu that were gluten-free.  Other than the Canyon Skillet, they included the Whiskey Maple-glazed Trout, Grilled Rib-Eye Steak, Smoked Pork Loin, or Beef Short Ribs.  Only the two remaining items on the menu could not accommodate a celiac, and they were the Meatloaf and the Chicken Vegetable Penne Pasta.

Canyon Skillet
Canyon Skillet

The Canyon Skillet (all-you-care-to-enjoy) consists of: Smoked Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, Oven-Roasted Chicken, Beef Brisket, Mashed Potatoes, Cowboy Beans, and Corn-on-the-Cob.  It comes with a Mixed Greens Salad with Apple Viniagrette and Fresh-Baked Cornbread.  Coleslaw was also an offering, but that was not considered to be gluten-free.  I could have also ordered an appetizer of Herb Seafood Cakes, but I opted not to try them as there was so much other food to eat.  I kind of regret that now, as I’ve always wanted to try seafood cakes, and they just don’t offer that type of thing, gluten-free, at the restaurants that I frequent back home.

Gluten-Free Corn Bread
Gluten-Free Corn Bread

Eddie warned us, “don’t fill up on the salad and corn bread”, and I’m glad I listened to him.  I saved most of my cornbread (brought a baggie) and brought it back to the resort for breakfast the following morning.  I ate enough of the salad to know that it was indeed tasty with the Apple Viniagrette dressing.

Of the Canyon Skillet, the chicken was my absolute favorite.  It was expertly seasoned and prepared well.  My second favorite was the pulled pork.  Can you tell that I’m a meat lover?  The Canyon Skillet is perfect for a hearty eater.  The ribs were very good, as were the mashed potatoes and corn-on-the-cob.  About the only thing I didn’t care for were the Cowboy Beans, but that was just a personal preference, nothing to do with how they were prepared.

Edy's Ice Cream
Edy's Ice Cream

For dessert, my choices were either sherbert or Edy’s Ice Cream; I chose Edy’s.

It was the best meal that I’d had in a very long time….I just wish we could return to the Whispering Canyon Cafe every month or so!  It’s probably for the best that I didn’t get to try the Herb Seafood Cakes…. to quote my father-in-law, “What if I like it?  What then?”  It’s not as if we can return regularly for an excellent meal.  This restaurant will definitely be on my list when we return to Disney World.

Biergarten Restaurant, Germany in Epoct

Biergarten Restaurant
Biergarten Restaurant

Our first table service reservation at DisneyWorld was at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany (World Showcase at Epcot).  This would be the first of many table service meals in which I would actually be able to eat with my husband, and we were eagerly anticipating the experience.  We’d been to the German restaurant back home, and the chef was always able to bring out a couple menu items that were gluten-free.  I’m not the biggest fan of German food, but I knew there were going to be items on the menu that I would enjoy.

The Biergarten Restaurant is a buffet-style restaurant. Inside, it’s decorated as if you’re in a German village.  We had made reservations 90 days in advance and I somehow expected a table for two.  Instead, we were seated at a table with 6 other guests.  I was surprised and hoped that it wouldn’t be that way at the other table service restaurants that we had reservations for during our vacation (it wasn’t).  Rick & I aren’t the type that look to meet new friends when we’re on vacation; we’re on vacation to enjoy one another’s company.  Still, it was entertaining to sit with them – they provided some very funny and interesting stories about their lives in New Jersey.

Biergarten Gluten-Free Salmon, Carrots & Broccoli
Biergarten Gluten-Free Salmon, Carrots & Broccoli

Chef Charles walked me through the gluten-free choices in the vast buffet.  I had many choices!  Most of the meats and sausages are gluten-free, and even though I am not much of a fan of German sausages (gasp!), I did want to try the gluten-free German sausage meatloaf.  Typically, meat loaf is made with bread crumbs and off-limits for a celiac, so the idea of any kind of meatloaf, even a sausage one, was very intriguing to me.  They had bone-in rotisserie chicken, and it was the best chicken I’ve ever tasted in my life!

Chef Charles prepared the salmon for me as the version on the buffet had a lemon dill cream sauce (Bremerhaven style).  The sauce sounded awfully good to me, but the way Charles prepared the salmon was excellent and very tasty!  He also prepared the cauliflower and carrots without the glaze.  They were plain, but okay.

Biergarten Gluten-Free Meat & Potatoes
Biergarten Gluten-Free Meat & Potatoes

I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal, and the roasted potatoes and carved meats were right up my alley!  But that rotisserie chicken remained as my favorite.  Expertly seasoned and prepared.

There are three levels of seating in the restaurant, in a semi-circle around the stage where performers dressed in traditional German-style clothing play music for the diners.  The tables were placed very close together, though, which made it difficult for those sitting on the inside of the table to get in and out to go up to the buffet.  Fortunately, we were sitting at the end of the table, so we had room for the camera equipment and tripod.

Biergarten Entertainment
Biergarten Entertainment

The entertainment really added to the atmosphere of the restaurant!  While we ate, the entertainers started a new set that lasted for about 20-30 minutes.

Biergarten in Germany, World Showcase at Epcot
Biergarten in Germany, World Showcase at Epcot

All in all, the meal at Biergarten was satisfactory.  For a celiac, there were many choices, but nothing out of the ordinary that I would receive in any other restaurant.  There were no gluten-free bread or rolls offered as was done at the restaurants that we would visit later in the week.  The quality of food was excellent, though.  I can’t stop thinking about that rotisserie chicken!  Perhaps if I were more of a German sausage fan, I would have enjoyed the meal even more.  Plus, we had both eaten a rather large late lunch, so we weren’t as hungry as we could have been by the time we arrived at the restaurant for our 7:00 p.m. reservation.